Back in 2017, Gartner predicted that AI will start to become prevalent in the world by 2020, with them also predicting that it will eliminate 1.8 million jobs and create 2.3 million more. Fast forward to 2023, we are now experiencing the rapid development of AI as it becomes more mainstream and accessible to individuals across industries and usages. The rise of ChatGPT prompted an AI boom that has familiarised the technology to the wider public.
More recent reports, including the one by Goldman Sachs in April 2023 show a progression to that number. They reported that generative AI could replace an equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs. This finding was due to their acknowledgement of the potential impact of generative AI on the global economy and employment markets.
However, as generative AI is a technology in development – there is a lot that is still unknown. Thus, there are jobs that currently cannot be replaced by AI as well as those that can.
Jobs AI Can Replace
- Administration Roles
Jobs that are primarily based on routine and repetitive administrative tasks are at high risk of being replaced by AI. The affordances of generative AI technology have now made these tasks easily automated. Roles such as receptionists, customer service representatives and data entry clerks are now starting to be phased out by AI platforms.
- Accounting Roles
Similar to the roles mentioned before, roles in accounting are at risk due to their nature of being repetitive. Currently, even though generative AI technology is not comprehensive enough to override various occupations, accounting is one of the roles at risk due to the technology being able to read, write and process numbers. It is expected that roles such as accounting clerks, bookkeepers and low-level accounting analysts will be replaced by AI in the future.
- Retail Sales Roles and Travel Agents
Although there are from two separate industries, the roles of retail salespeople and travel agents will be affected similarly by the rise of AI. These roles have been affected by the advances of technology for some time now, as people are now looking to book their travels and do their shopping online. The advancement of generative AI will further enhance this experience, causing fewer people to do their shopping or travel arrangements in person.
What Can’t AI Do?
- Leadership Roles
Generative AI currently has a fixed skillset that does not include various human traits and skills – such as leadership and management. As it stands, AI cannot replicate human sentiment and instinct. This means that even with the integration of AI technologies, C-Level roles will not be replaced by AI fully. In these roles, the introduction of AI can further enhance the role but eliminate it.
- Education Roles
Although education has seen automation in many ways due to the adoption of remote learning during pandemic restrictions, AI is believed to not replace the roles of teachers and educators. This is due to the need for an emotional connection between teacher and student that cannot be replicated by AI technologies. Emotional intelligence is a necessary prerequisite for these roles and it is not something that can be adopted by generative AI.
- Technical Roles in AI and Machine Learning
In this context, these roles are not ones that are unable to be replaced by AI but roles that have become more necessary or created through the usage of AI. Roles such as AI engineers, data scientists and hardware specialists will become in-demand jobs. These roles are expected to grow and become an essential part of many workplaces.
As generative AI technologies continue to develop, there is no way of knowing for sure what the future will look like in employment and the global economy. The roles listed above do not comprise all roles that will be affected by AI technologies. However, it should be expected that most, if not all, occupations will be impacted by AI in some way in the near future.